It has been 77 years since the outbreak of the Second World War. For Poles the nightmare lasted nearly 6 years. First fights and bombarding. Later war occupation, poverty, roundups and concentration camps. Omnipresent death, pain and fear did not, however, destroy love

The Germans set up Auschwitz camp in 1940 and killed at least 1.1 million people of different nationalities there. However, love can find its place even where there are only death and cruelty. Such a thought came to my mind when I met touching stories of two young couples imprisoned in Auschwitz.

The first story – about a married couple of an Austrian man and a Spanish woman

Rudolf Friemel, a car mechanic was born in 1907 in Vienna. Margarita was younger than him by 9 years. The spouses met each other in the second half of the 30s of the last century in Spain during the civil war. Rudolf went there to support fighting insurgents against forces of gen. Franco. They got married when still being in Spain, soon before the republic collapse and they both escaped to France – on different roads (he on his own, she with her sister). There were interned there, and then separated again. On 26 April 1941 Margarita gave birth to their son – Eduardo. They called him Edi. Margarita and her child found accommodation at father Friemel in Vienna. Rudolf was trying to return to them, but was arrested and after his stay in prison in the first months in 1942, he was taken to Auschwitz. The German authorities did not acknowledge republican law, including marriages contracted on the basis on it. However, Margarita and Rudolf wanted to be formally married as if in spite of the reality, in which they lived. They got help from father Friemel who asked Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler to let his son contract a marriage according to the German law. A miracle happened. Himmler agreed. Father and brother Friemel and his wife Margarita and son Edi received a permission to leave for KL Auschwitz. Rudolf was allowed to grow his hair and on his wedding day he received a suit, a shirt and a tie and new shoes, coming from SS warehouses. On 18 March 1944 wedding guests with the young couple, accompanied by sounds of a camp orchestra, went to the camp office of the civil status (also death acts were written out there), where the marriage was contracted again, according to rules biding in the Third Reich. Later a prisoner Wilhelm Brasse took a wedding photo, and in the camp house, the newly married couple received a room for one night. It was the only wedding in Auschwitz. Next morning Margarita and her son left.

The Austrian man did not survive the war. In the camp he quickly got related to the opposition movement. He was hung by the Germans on 30 December 1944 after his attempt of escape of conspiracy leaders from the camp. He was killed in his wedding shirt, on which imprisoned women had embroided roses on the wedding occasion. Nearly a month later, on 27 January 1945, divisions of the Red Army liberated KL Auschwitz.

The unsuccessful escape of Poles: Bernard Swierczyna, Czesław Duzel, Zbigniew Raynocha, Piotr Piąty, and also an Austrian man Ernst Burger took place on 27 October 1944. They were to be transported from the camp by an SS-man Johann Roth. Escapers hid in a car in which dirty linens were transported to a laundry. Roth betrayed. The car, instead of leaving the camp, went directly to the 11 bloc. The escapers were given a poison. Raynoch and Duzel died on the spot. The rest of them were placed in the 11 bloc. Also Ruddolf Friemel and Ludwig Vesely were taken there, whom Roth betrayed as organizers of the escape. Two weeks before his death, Friemel sent a secret letter to his wife. He wrote in it: ‘My dear, dear Margo, I cuddle you lovingly and I wish you all the best at Christmas. Your R. forever. What is my little baby doing? Please, write to me a lot about him. A lot of kisses to both of you!’. His wife and son Edouard survived the war. Margarita died in 1987.

The second story – about a Jewish woman and a Polish man

It was also in 1944 in the same camp, when Mala Zimetbaum and Edward Galiński escaped from it. He, called by his inmates Edek, came from Tuligłowa near Jarosław. In spring 1940 he was arrested with other students of the secondary school in Jarosław within a German action AB directed against the Polish intelligence. As a 17-year-old boy in the first transport of Polish prisoners, on 14 June 1940, he was taken to Auschwitz. He received 531 number. He worked in an ironworks, whose chief was a German man from Bielsko, an SS-man Edward Lubusch, a very favorable to prisoners (he spoke Polish; before the war he had lived among Poles). Mala was older than Edek by 5 years. She was born in Brzesko, as the youngest daughter of Pinkas and Chai. The family emigrated to Antwerpia in Belgium in 1928. Mala was talented in languages. She spoke: Flemish, French, German, English, Polish and Russian. The Germans arrested her on 11 September 1942 during a roundup and placed her in a camp in Malines. On 15 September 1942 she was deported with other Jews to Auschwitz. She received 19 880 number. Mala and Edek met each other and fell in love on the turn of 1943 and 1944. They escaped from the camp on 24 June 1944. She put on an overalls, under which she was wearing a dress gained earlier, and Edek, was spoke German very well, put on a suit and a belt with a holster and a gun gained from the SS-man Lubusch earlier. Using falsified documents, they got out, pretending to transport the imprisoned woman to work outside the camp and got to a village Kozy near Bielsko. Mala had relatives in Slovakia and they wanted to get to them. Unfortunately, they came across a German patrol who stopped the woman in a shop. The Germans did not notice Edward. He could have escaped, but wanting to be with his beloved woman, he went out from his hide and willingly gave himself into his hands, although he knew that it was equivalent to death verdict. They were identified by their numbers as prisoners of Auschwitz and deported to the camp. Galiński underwent tortures there in order to admit who he had got the uniform and the gun from. However, he did not tell the secret. His inmate from the same prison cell mentioned that every evening, after an assembly, Galiński had sung the aria ‘Serenata in Messico’ which Mala had taught him. In this way he gave a sign to his beloved woman that he was still alive. They both were sentenced to death penalty for the escape. The verdict was executed on 22 August 1944 in Auchswitz II – Birkenau. He was hung in a male camp and she was probably shot in a female camp.

A voluntary prisoner

The person of Edward Lubusch is incredible in this story. He reported himself to be a volunteer for Auschwitz team in order to avoid being sent to the eastern front. At that time he was not aware of consequences of his choice. He persuaded his commander to open up an ironwork workshop on the area of the camp and he employed prisoners but not to use them, only help them. In the workshop they slowly got recovered and Lunusch stole extra food for them. He often employed people who did not know anything about ironwork, but to save them. He was often punished by the commandants of the camp for too lenient treating prisoners. He did not put up with the camp cruelty and deserted from SS. Thanks to his father-in-law who was a Polish officer before the war, he joined the National Army. The Germans were looking for him. At the end of 1944, when he secretly visited his wife and son in Wadowice, he was arrested. He was taken to prison in Bielsko, where he was sentenced to death but the verdict was not executed because of the moving front line. He was transported to prison in Berlin, and then acquitted and taken to Volkssturm. Lubusch escaped from Berlin. When he was going back to Poland, he found documents of a dead man, with the surname Bronisław Żołnierowicz. He settled down in Poland with his wife and children under this surname. He died on 10 March 1984 and buried in Jelenia Góra.

‘Love is patient (…) bears everything (…) and never stops’.


„Niedziela” 31/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: